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Parents say Ontario government misled them over autism funding

Last Updated Sep 17, 2016 at 8:30 am EST

Parents of children with autism protested for hours outside the office of the Minister of Children and Youth Services on Friday, saying they were misled by the Ontario government.

They wanted an apology after learning the province did not take the advice of an expert panel when it came to treating children with autism.

In April, the Liberal government faced heavy criticism for its decision to only provide Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) to children under five years old.  Children over five would not qualify for the treatment.

The Liberal government and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, then led by MPP Tracy MacCharles, credited their decision to the expert advice of a panel.

Although the decision was reversed this summer, amid heavy backlash and under a new minister, Michael Coteau, it has been revealed that the panel never advised the Ontario government of what the government claimed. In fact, they advised against it.

The panel, however, was unable to make its opinions on the controversial guidelines known as it was under a non-disclosure agreement.

“They silenced them by using a non-disclosure agreement and then they said that their age five cutoff was based on the advice of the expert panel. We now know that was a lie,“ said Laura Kirby-McIntosh of the Ontario Autism Coalition.

More than one dozen concerned parents rallied outside the office of Coteau. They not only wanted an apology for what they called a “betrayal,” but also assurances from Coteau that future decisions would not be hidden by non-disclosure agreements.

“The trust is lost between the parents and government and we would like them to restore that trust by moving that non-disclosure agreement so that there is transparency,“ said Jody Lipton, the parent of a child with autism.

“If you want to go back to the committee and the committee agrees that they want to have full transparency system where every single thing that they say in that committee is made public than they can do that,” Couteau said.